Warby Parker has become one of my go-to brands for perscription eyewear, both optical and sunwear.

My Warby addiction began a few years ago when I stumbled across their site after searching all over the internet in order to find an optical brand that would accomplish 3 things.

  1. Allow me to put my current glasses to rest (never shop for glasses alone, it will not end well).
  2. Not burn a massive hole in my wallet. 
  3. Not break after a week of use. 

Believe it or not, Warby Parker, at that time, was not a very popular brand. When I called my eye doctor to ask for my prescription, even he had no idea what I was talking about. I remember his reaction vividly, “Warby, who?”

What did I have to lose though? I wasn’t about to spend $600 on a new pair of frames from his office, I couldn’t stand the look of my current frames, and my vision is terrible so going glasses-less was just not an option.

You should have just bought some contacts, you say? Yeah, well, allow me to bring you back to my budget. $200 will buy you contacts for a few weeks (maybe months) but I needed a more permanent solution.

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Long story short, I discovered Warby Parker and came across the Home Try On Kit, which allows each member to choose 5 frames to try on FOR FREE.

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I was hooked. ….Or they hooked me, either way, I ordered the trial box. It arrived a few days later, and I fell in love with the 1st frame I tried on (this time I asked for opinions from my friends and family to make sure that I wasn’t making a huge mistake again).

I shipped the box back and ordered that frame–total cost, somewhere around $150.

I could see again–and no longer looked like a “serial killer,” according to my family.

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This brings me to the main topic of discussion today, the Warby Parker NYC Store experience. 

I wanted to pick up a new pair of sunglasses, even though, as my mother would say, “I needed another pair of sunglasses like I needed a hole in my head.” To be completely honest, I think I really just wanted to experience the store for myself, the sunglasses were just an excuse to do so.

I love New York. My mother would often bring me into the city growing up, so I had grown a sincere attachment to it.

I was so excited to go into the city on a mission to visit the store , I mean incredibly excited. Like tapping my feet on the subway the entire way there excited. It is always a treat to see what the brand is all about and a brick & mortar is the best way to discover just that. I just hoped that it would live up to my expectations. 

It did. Located in SoHo–one of my favorite areas of the city–the store already spoke to me.

Upon walking into the store, I noticed the awesome (terrible word, but whatever) displays they had in the windows and the vast amount of selection on the shelves (their spring line had just dropped).

The employees were helpful, kind, and courteous throughout my hour long visit. They assisted me in finding the perfect frame and allowed me to try on literally EVERY frame in the store. I even spent some time talking about UNC and our legendary sports teams with one employee.

The store was beautifully designed with a bookstore theme. Something about it just made me feel right at home. It was just hipster enough for my tastes.

As soon as I left, I pulled out the glasses and wore them around the city, during the entire subway and train ride, and even all the way home–it was pretty dark out, mind you, but did’t take them off until I got home.

The sunglasses came in a nice clamshell case with a lens cleaner, and a simple black and white box. On top of all of this, the cashier handed me a canvas/cloth bag to carry the little extras around with me for the rest of my New York adventure.

How have the glasses stood up to my abuse? Incredibly well, actually. I use them almost everyday and honestly see no difference in quality compared to my other prescription Gucci glasses, which is saying something.

So what is the key to understanding this experience? What is the consumer insight?

–>Customers want an honest & sincere company<–

Don’t believe me? Try my test yourself.
Think of your favorite brand and start listing reasons why you enjoy it so much. I guarantee it will eventually boil down to the fact that a brand stays consistent throughout it’s presentation of itself. The details truly matter, even the small ones. Finding a brand is similar to finding a good friend. If someone is fake and you find out, their reputation is instantly tarnished. If they remain consistent in their personality, if they are honest and sincere with you, the friendship will last for ages. Once that person begins shifting away from who you believed them to be, then well…I think we all know what happens then.

  • My loyalty to this brand began with the unique market position; cheap, high-quality glasses.
  • My interest was peaked due to the unique offering, the Home Try On Kit.
  • My loyalty was reinforced after visiting the store and seeing that the brand was truly representative of what it’s roots. What was reflected online was perfectly reflected in store.
Question from Professor:
Given this insight, try your hand at making a recommendation for marketing of this product/service.
How would you improve the 4P’s (product, the pricing, the distribution or the promotion) to make it more consistent with your insight?
Product: Well, I love the product. That is, of course, one of the main reasons for my loyalty to the brand, but there is always room for improvement. The screws within the hinges of the glasses are of low quality, so they often ‘stick’ making opening and closing the glasses a pain. This is a simple yet incredibly important fix.
The brand already offers a wide variety of styles and color ways, but I often do find that I wish there were more options for us men and women who enjoy larger sunnies. Again, minor complaint, but definitely something important to address.
Price: They are incredibly inexpensive for the quality. My one gripe lies in the fact that the price seems to have been increasing on some of the newer models of frames. This could be due to an increase in the quality of materials used, but it is something that always catches me off guard and bothers me a little bit.
Distribution: No company is perfect, but Warby does a great job in the distribution department. Home Try On Kits, a wide selection of frames to choose from and an array of destinations available to ship to. My one possible improvement? Team up with a bigger brand like LensCrafters to make the frames more widely available in brick & mortar locations. I can understand why the brand hesitates here though, part of the WP charm comes from it’s unique stores. They all have a personality that reinforce the brand’s personality.
Promotion: Be yourself. Keep that same style and personality that I originally enjoyed in everything you do. I see a lot of potential in social media advertising, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
I would also recommend improving top-of-mind awareness by bringing the brand onto sites and sponsored content/native ads with Jack Threads/Thrillist, GQ, etc (which the brand has done to some extent).
Another idea would be to collaborate with well-known brands that it’s consumers also follow like Frank & Oak, Kith NYC, Burton, etc.
Well, that might be the longest post yet, but I hope you enjoyed what I had to say.
Summer is coming up, so go out and get yourself a new pair of glasses.

 

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